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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

Bureau of Agricultural Economics 

Washington 



3LS-24 



December 20, 1938 



THE SHEEP AND LAM 



SITUATION 



Sum mary 

Marketings of fed lambs in the current fed lamb marketing season 
(December-April) probably will be smaller than those of last season, 
reports the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Total slaughter supplies 
of sheep and lambs in the present fed lamb marketing season will depend 
to a considerable extent, however, on the feed situation in Texas. If 
the drought situation in Texas continues, there may be rather heavy ship- 
ments of Texas lambs direct to feed lots in other States, and to stock- 
yards' markets throughout the winter. But the number of grass-fat yearling 
lambs and spring iambs marketed befpre May 1 from Texas may be much 
smaller than a year earlier. 

The number of lambs fed in the 1938-39 season will be somewhat 
smaller than the number fed in the 1937-38 season. The decrease in feed- 
ing will be in the ¥estern States, as it now seems probable that the 
number fed in the Corn Belt will not be greatly different from a year 
earlier. 

Consumer demand for meats has improved considerably since last 
summer, and some further improvement may occur in the next few months. 
This will bo a strengthening influence on lamb prices in the present, fed 
lamb marketing season. The rise in lamb prices in late October and 



early November was fairly well maintained in late November and earlj 
December. In the first week of December prices of lambs averaged s 
higher than a year earlier. The advance in prices since September : 



s 



->a i c 

LL OT I 

ightly 
In : • 



SLS-24 - 2 — 

marked contrast to the situation last year, when prices declined steadily 
throughout the last half of the year. The drop in prices last fall result- 
ed chiefly from the marked weakness in consumer demand, whereas the im- 
provement in consumer demand this fall has been an important factor in the 
advance that has occurred. 

REVIEW OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS 

BACKGROUND .- The I938 lamb crop was 5 percent larger than 
that of 1937 and was the largest on record. This increase 
in the lamb crop has been reflected in larger slaughter 
supplies than a year earlier in every month thus far in 
the present lamb marketing year which be-an last May. 

Prices of lambs declined from late June until late 
September as marketings of sheep and lambs increased 
seasonally. But, since late September some recovery in 
prices has occurred as a result of a reduction in supplies 
and some improvement in consumer demand for moats. The 
rise in prices since September has buon in marked contrast 
to the situation last year, when prices declined steadily 
in the last half of the year. The drop in prices in the 
fall months of 1937 reflected chiefly the growing weakness 
in consumer demand. 

Lamb prices strengthe n in Novemb er 

Prices of lambs rose in late October and in the first week of November. 
In the next 2 weeks of November they were fairly steady with a further 
advance during the last week of the month, prices weakened somewhat in 
early December. For the week ended December 10 the average good and choice 
grades of slaughter lambs at Chicago was $9.10 compared with about $8.90 
a year earlier. 

Prices of both slaughter and feeder lambs have risen since late 
September. Throughout most of this period prices of good and choice 
feeder lambs have been somewhat lower than prices of good and choice 
slaughter lambs, as is usually the case during the fall season. Last fall, 
however, prices of feeder lambs were about as high as prices of slaughter 
lambs. This difference reflects the weaker demand for feeder lambs this 
year than last. 

Mar ketin gs continue larger than year e arlie r 

Inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs in November, totaling 1,453»000 
head, was seasonally smaller than in October but 10 percent larger than 
in November 1937» 



SLS-24 - 3— 

Slaughter during the period from May through November is made up 
largely of grass lambs and yearlings, and for the period December through 
April fed lambs make up the largest' part of the slaughter supply. For the 
May-November period this year, inspected slaughter of sheep and lambs 
amounted to 10,385,000, an increase of 7 percent over the corresponding 
period of last year. As marketings of yearlings during the early part of 
the summer were smaller than a year earlier, the increase in the supply 
of new crop lambs was relatively larger than the increase in the total 
supply for the May-November period. 

LAMB FEEDING SITUATION 

Decrease in feeding in Wester n States , little ch ange in Corn Belt 

The prospects for lamb feeding this winter now appear somewhat dif- 
ferent from the indications given in the November issue of this report. It 
now seems probable that as many lambs, if not more, will be fed in the Corn 
Belt this season as last. Some decrease in the Corn Belt was indicated by 
the movement that had taken place prior to the November issue. 

The .mmber of lambs fed in the Western States in the 1938-39 feeding 
season is expected to be considerably smaller than the number fed. in the 
1937-38 season. And because of the reduction in the Western States, the 
total number fed in all States will be smaller than a year earlier. 

Reports indicate that on December 1 the number of lambs in feed lots 
in Colorado was 15 percent smaller than a year earlier. Decreases in Wyoming 
and New Mexico and a small increase in Montana also wore reported. In the 
States west of the Continental Divide, not including Idaho, a decrease of 
about 15 percent in the number on feed on December 1 was reported^ Some 
decrcase> is also probable in Idaho, but figures are not yet available for 
that State. 

In early December it appeared probable that the number of lambs fed 
in the Eastern Corn Belt in the 1938-39 feeding .season would not be greatly 
different from the number fed last season. But the number fed in the Western 
Corn Bolt, including those on wheat pastures in Kansas and Nebraska, 
probably will be larger than a year earlier. Increased feeding seems pro- 
bable in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, with little change in Minnesota and a 
decrease in South Dakota. In Nebraska a reduction of about 25 percent in 
the Scottsbluff area probably will be largely, but not wholly, offset by 
incrcases in other parts of that State. 

Shipments of feeder lambs and sheep through stockyards markets from 
July through November were larger than for the corresponding period of 
last year. Shipments in November wore more than one-third larger this 
year than last. Records of direct shipments (not going ih rough stockyards) 
for several important Corn Belt States show that 'the direct movement into 
those St;... es from July through November also. was larger this year than last. 



SLS-24 - k - 

Shipments r ather large from Texas 

The drought situation in Texas may have considerable influence upon 
the lamb feeding situation this winter. The failure of wheat pastures over 
much of. the State has resulted in the number of lambs fed in the State 
being smaller than seemed probable earlier, partly because of the poor 
feed situation in the main sheep area and partly because other areas of the 
State have taken fewer lambs for feeding, shipments of lambs out of Texas 
in recent months have been relatively large. If the' drought in Texas 
continues, and the feed situation becomes more serious in the main sheep 
area, the large movement of lambs and_ sheep to feed lots outside the State 
may continue throughout the winter. 

OUTLOOK 

In the outlook report for sheep and lambs for 1939 » released by 
the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in early November, and in the November 
i-ssue of the Sheep and Lamb Situation the more important conclusions stated 
were : 

. (1) The trend in sheep numbers in the United States will 
be upward during the next few years. The expansion in numbers 
probably will be reflected in increased production- of wool. 
But the size of lamb crop is affected to a considerable extent 
by feed supplies and weather conditions during the lambing 
season. Weather and feed conditions in all of the principal 
lambing areas as generally favorable as those of last spring are 
very unusual. Consequently the 1938 lamb crop may not be equal- 
ed for several years even though sheep numbers increase, 

(.2) The number of lambs fed during the 1933-39 feeding season 
will be smaller than the number fed in the 1937-33 season. 
Although marketings of fed lambs in the fed lamb marketing sea- 
son, December -April 1938-39, may be smaller than those of a year 
earlier, marketings of other lambs and sheep, particularly from 
Texas, may be larger. Consequently, the total live weight of 
sheep and lambs slaughtered in the current fed lamb marketing 
season may be larger than in the 1937-38 season, 

(3) Consumer demand for meats in 1939 will be stronger than 
in 1935, The improvement in consumer demand probably will be 
sufficiently great to more than offset effects upon prices of 
any increase in marketings of sheop and lambs. Hence, the 
average price of lambs in the 1933-39 fed lamb season probably 
will be higher than that* of 1937-33. 

Although developments of the past few weeks have been such as to in- 
dicate that the number of lambs fed in the Corn Belt will be larger than 
seemed probable earlier, some decrease from a year earlier in the total 
number of lambs fed in the entire country is still expected. 



SLS-24 



- 5 



Because of the drought in Texas, it is possible that there will be 
rathfer large shipments of : feeder ' lambs out of that state during the 
winter 'months. This ; wOuld tend to increase the slaughter supply of fed 
lambs during the latter part of the fed lamb marketing season. If the 
drought in Texas continues, however, there will be very. few grass-fat 
lambs marketed from that State before May 1, and the number of early spring 
lambs marketed in March and April probably will be much smaller than the 
number marketed in March and April last year. Hence it appears that 
total slaughter of sheep and lambs during the first half of 1939 will be 
influenced considerably by the feed situation in Texas. 



Present indications are that consumer demand for meats during the 
early months of 1939 will be well maintained, with same further improvement 
not unlikely. This will be a strengthening factor to lamb prices in the 
present fed lamb marketing season and will be in narked contrast to the 
situation in early 1938, when consumer demand weakened further after de- 
clining in late 1937. 



SLS-2U - 6 „ 

Price per 100 pounds of sheep and lambs, 
September-November, 1936-38 



by months , 



1936 



Item 



Sept. 



Oct. 



Nov 



1937 



193S 



Sept. 



Oct. : Nov. :Sept 



Oct. : Nov. 



Slaughter lambs - 
Omaha: 
Good and choice 
Common & medium 
■Slaughter ewes - 
Omaha: 
Good and choice 
Common & medium 
Feeding lambs - 
Omaha: 
Good and choice 
Average price paid 
by packers - 
Sheep and lambs : 
Average price re- : 
ceived by farmers* 

Sheep • 

Lambs : 

Lamb , New York - : 

Wholesale car- : 

cass; 1/ : 

Choice : 

Good • 

Medium : 

Pulled wool, : 
Boston - 2/ • 

Choice AA : 

Choice White B . t 

Sheep pelts, : 

packers shearings; 

No. 1, Chicago, : 

each 3/ : 



Dpi. 

8. 74 
7-0q 



2.3k 
1.89 



7-55 



8.22 



3.60 
7.U3 



19.20 
IS. 00 

16.39 



92.0 

77.0 



Dol. 



g.10 
6.62 



2.99- 
I.9U 



7-12 
7.75 



3.52 
7.25 



16.71 
15.92 

1U.99 



92.5 
76.2 



Dol. Dol* Dol. Dol. Dol. Dol. Do] 



8.28 10.11 9.52 
6.86 S.7S 8.22 



3.31 i 3.67 3.68 
2.24. 2.56 2.54 



7.06 9.60 9.13' 
7.92 9.U6 S.7U 



3-58 4.35 4.30 
7.23 8.57 8.42 



15.95 21.80 19.95 

15.05 20.52 IS.95 
lU.21 18.66 17.86 



99-4 103.7 96.5 
S3.1 S5.8 79-2 



9.16 7.64 7.88 8.55 
7.79 6.1+6 6.50 7.10 



3.60 3.09 3-io 3.57 
2.53 2.21 2.22 2.6U 



8. 70 7-11 7.37 7-8U 
8.55 7.29 7.28 



3-95 3-38 3.36 3.53 
7.S7 6.46 6.37 6.82 



20.08 16.96 16.82 13.18 

18.97 16.10 16.10 17.49 
17.77 14.38 14.3s 15.60 



88.9 73.5 78.5 82.7 
71.9 60.5 62.1 64.9 



1.02 1.03 1.02 1.31 1.24 0.9k 0.6l O.65 0.73 



1/ For choice and good, 38 pounds 
1937, and all weights in I93S. 
2/ Cents per pound. 
3_/ Bureau of Labor Statistics. 



down; for medium, 38 pounds down in 1936 and 



SLS-24 



- 7 - 
Supplies of sheep and lambs, specified periods 





Unit 


Year 






Month 






Item 


Average : 
1924-33 : 1936 


1937 


Nov. : 
average: 
1924-33: 


Nov. : 
1937 : 


Cct. : 
1938 : 


Nov. 
1938 


Sheep and lambs: 
Number slaughtered 
under Federal in- 
spection l/ 

Receipts at seven 
markets 2/ 


Thou- 
sands 

do. 

Thou- 
sands 


14,737 17,216 
3/15,241 11,892 


17,270 
11,470 


1,184 
3/1,209 


1,321 
813 


1,638 
1,512 


1,453 
814 




Year 






Month 








Average : 
1924-33 : 1936 


1937 


Oct. : 

ave rage : 
1924-33: 


Oct. : 
1937 : 


Sept . : 
1938 : 


Oct. 
1938 


Slaughter under 

Federal inspection 

Lambs and yearlings : 

Number slaughtered. 


13,678 15,647 


15,912 


1,314 


1,349 


1,584 


1,518 


Percentage of total 
sheep and lambs . . 


Percent 


92.8 90.9 


92.1 


92.7 


88.2 


93.5 


92.7 


Sheep: 1 
Number slaughtered. 


Thou- 
sands 


1,059 1,569 


1,358 


103 


180 


110 


119 


Percentage of total 
sheep and lambs . , 


Percent 


•7.2 9.1 


7.9 


7.3 


11.8 


6.5 


7.3 


Sheep and lambs: 
Average live weight 


Pound 


81 85 


85 


80 


84 


82 


83 


Average dressed 

weight 


do. 


39 40 


40 


38 


39 


39 


39 


jJotal dressed 

weight . 


Mil. lb. 


569 680 


683 


54 


59 


66 


64 



1/ Bureau of Animal Industry. 

2/ Chicago, Kansas -City, Omaha, Denver, St. Joseph, Sioux City and St. Paul. 

3/ Average 1929-33. 



ill 

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